Barbara Cook, legendary star of the Broadway musicals The Music Man, She Loves Me and Candide, died Tuesday morning at 89. The cause was respiratory failure, her son Adam LeGrant told The Post.
Slender, beautiful, blond and blessed with a lyric soprano voice as clear as crystal, Cook, who was born in Atlanta, became Broadways most famous ingnue in the 1950s. She originated the role of Cunegonde in Leonard Bernsteins 1956 musical Candide, stopping the show nightly with the operatic Glitter and Be Gay, which became one of her signature songs.
She also originated the role of Marian the Librarian opposite Robert Prestons Harold Hill in The Music Man, for which she won a Tony Award in 1957.
Her Broadway career ended in the early 70s as she struggled with depression, alcoholism and weight gain.
Because of this package Im in, she once told me, it became more difficult to get roles. They asked me to be Tug Boat Annie what the hell have I got do with Tug Boat Annie?
As her drinking spiraled out of control, Cook withdrew from show business. But she got sober in the 80s and reinvented herself as the premiere interpreter of the American Songbook. She marked her return to the stage with a mesmerizing performance as Sally in a concert version of Stephen Sondheims Follies at Lincoln Center in 1985. Her interpretation of Losing My Mind has never been equaled.
Cooks concert career took off, and she recorded many acclaimed albums Barbara Cooks Broadway, Barbara Cook at the Met and Mostly Sondheim: Live at Carnegie Hall.
Another of her signature songs from her ingnue days was Vanilla Ice Cream from the musical She Loves Me.
And vanilla ice cream is the last thing she ate the Gods honest truth, her son told The Post.